I’ve been wanting to visit the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art ever since it moved into it’s new location on Oslo’s waterfront. Between this place and Ekeberg Park, Oslo’s access to modern art is off the charts, especially in proportion to her size. There was one rainy day during my time in Norway, so off we went. Besides the impressive permanent collection of modern art, there was an exhibit of works collected by the explorer Erling Kagge’s called Love Story. The Astrup Fearnley’s location on the peninsula of Tjuvholmen is dramatic, and the two museum buildings provide a soaring backdrop for the art. I liked a lot of what I saw, was challenged by some pieces, and thought a few were in the category of you’re-pulling-my-leg. That’s modern art for you, but in particular I am still haunted by Damien Hirst’s Eulogy, constructed with butterfly wings, and to which no picture can do justice.
Oslo has long had one of the most impressive sculpture parks in the world in Vigeland Park. In the fall of 2013, the city of Oslo opened Ekeberg Park as a “people’s park,” which is a quintessentially Norwegian way to do things. It is a “sculpture and national heritage park” with a strong international art collection, including works by Rodin, Renoir, Dali, Vigeland, Botero, and Damien Hirst.
Most of the sculptures are figures or representations of women. They are surrounded by beautiful scenery with many spectacular views out over the city and Oslfjord. Traces of some of the oldest settlements in the area, such as petroglyphs and dry stone walls, are also found in this fascinating cultural landscape.
After quite a few visits to Oslo over the last 15 years, it was a deep pleasure to discover something new and inspiring and to spend an afternoon walking through beautiful Ekenberg Park with family. The park is free and always open. There is a nearby campground, too.